Isabel Lewis

If in One’s Own Time @ Emalin, Jul 10 – 17

8 July 2016

Nomadic curatorial project, Emalin is presenting the If in Ones Own Time group exhibition in Naples, opening July 10 and running to July 17.

Taking the form of an show that incorporates an event programme based around San Giuseppe delle Scalze, a church in the centre of Naples, some of the invited artists will give talks, tours, guides, and screen videos that relate to the overarching notion outlined in the press release that “the new begins in observations of the old”.

Included are works: ‘A walk with Antirrhinum majus’, a performance by Augustas Serapinas on the discovery of the wildflowers of San Giuseppe delle Scalze; a tour through the architecture of the Sanità district guided by Fabrizio Ballabio of artist collective, åyr; a library by BeckBooks and other contributions from several more artists including Rob Chavasse, Isabel Lewis, Hannah Weinberger and Maria Loboda.

Emalin have previously curated large group show Folly, that occupied an old stone building in Scotland known as the Dunmore Pineapple after the fruit it mimics, and the intimate installation, Honeymoon in Pickle Paradise in 2014 in a London hotel by London-based artist Athena Papadopoulos.

See the Emalin website for more details.**

Hannah Weinberger, event image for PERFORMANCE PERFORMANCE (2016). Courtesy the artist and Schinkel Klause
Hannah Weinberger, PERFORMANCE PERFORMANCE (2016). Courtesy the artist and Schinkel Klause, Berlin.
  share news item

Liverpool Biennial 2016 recommendations, July 9 – Oct 16

6 July 2016

The Liverpool Biennial 2016 is on across venues in the UK city, opening July 9 and running to October 16.

Unlike many other biennials and larger art fairs, this one is arranged around a coherent narrative with much specificity involved. The viewer will be taken on a series of voyages through time and space, drawing on Liverpool’s past, present and future in six ‘episodes’: Ancient Greece, Chinatown, Children’s Episode, Software, Monuments from the Future and Flashback, all installed in public spaces, unused buildings and galleries across the city.

Also unique to the biennial is that many of the 44 artists have made work for more than one episode. Some are repeated across different episodes, some venues host more than one episode and many of the artists have curated events within the extensive events and film screening programme.

Here are some aqnb recommendations:

Elena Narbutaite and Eduardo Costa’s collaborative swimsuits designed by Costa in the 1980s and materialised by Lithuanian artist Narbutaite in 2016 will be on display in a photoshoot performance called ‘Sun Kiss Feline‘ at the Adelphi Hotel swimming pool.

Adam Linder @ Tate Liverpool

Isabel Lewis @ Sefton Park Palm House 

Ian Cheng @ Cains Brewery

Lucy Beech @ FACT

Installation, Slice a Slanted Arc into Dry Paper Sky by Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian, who have smuggled objects, props, works and films from their collection in Dubai where they are living and where they are in exile by shipping container, also @ Cains Brewery.

Ana Jotta‘s work across multiple locations.

Arseny Zhilyaev @ Granby Four Streets

Suzanne Treister’s @ John Moores University’s Exhibition Research Lab

Betty Woodman @ Tate Liverpool

Liv Wynter @ The Royal Standard

Ryan Gander @ Cactus

Krzysztof Wodiczko @ FACT

See the Liverpool Biennal website for more details.**


Elena Narbutaite + Eduardo Costa, 'Sun Kiss Feline' (1982-2016). Courtesy the artists.
Elena Narbutaite + Eduardo Costa, ‘Sun Kiss Feline’ (1982-2016). Courtesy the artists.


  share news item

Isabel Lewis @ Tanz im August reviewed

15 September 2015

For a third night, Isabel Lewis presents what she terms as her ‘occasion’ format at Berlin’s HAU theatre. Inside people sit or rest on soft carpet. It’s a visual merging of floor and seating, where visitors come and go as they please in what is one of an ongoing and open-ended series of hosted gatherings, recently presented as part of Tanz im August, on September 4. Breathing in and out, it seems the space could be breathing too, as amplified sound and light dimmers change the visible and invisible atmosphere. In the air hangs a mix of ‘the garden’, ‘the club’ and ‘the site of intellectual culture’, sprayed molecules DJ-ed like an endless looping of sound, a release of custom-made smells resulting from a collaboration between the artist and Berlin chemist Sissel Tolaas.

Along with the sight of Lewis moving around the room comes the realisation that this occasion is a kind of hybrid-complex of theatre, exhibition, nightclub and symposium. And the related host, who is sometimes central but also marginal to the live content, an embodiment of dancer, artist, DJ and interlocutor. Highly constructed, Lewis has affected the biochemistry in the room, either by the presence of lush garden-design or by the management of group conversation, ranging from questions about the ‘good life’ or sensing energy flows from humans and plants.

Lewis has said that these occasions recall STRANGE ACTION, her touchstone work from 2009, which is seen as a prototype for transitioning the role of performer to host. Earlier this year, STRANGE ACTION was presented to a small crowd at Yvonne Lambert in Berlin. At some point in the evening, the artist entered the room and tried to enable a conversation about Mr. T and Nicole Kidman. She was interested in the former’s cult TV personality, his near perfect embodiment of a character, a figure intended for the fictional moments of action-adventure watched at home. In contrast, the latter actress was spoken about as a kind of antithesis, an actor who is rarely able to reach the characters she sets out to embody, an unintended outcome of her own super-star status. In the final moments of STRANGE ACTION, music was played and the artist head-banged until reaching an emotional and physical climax, a limit visually signified by Lewis in tears and disconnecting from her hosted crowd.

In this occasion, there are moments when Lewis also breaks away from compèring conversations, seeking instead an excitement that is not directly intended for the audience. This is seen when the artist’s attention shifts from her interactions with the crowd to interacting with the computer. DJ softwares Traktor, GarageBand and djay Pro have been running the whole night and Lewis lines up a mix of ‘Ima Read’ by New York rapper Zebra Katz.

Decoration for an occasion at Kunsthalle Basel, October 2015. Courtesy the artist.
Decoration for an occasion at Kunsthalle Basel, October 2015. Courtesy the artist.

In this moment, it seems artist and computer are working together, as if a flow of energy is moving between human and machine, a continuous feedback with sound as its focus, a rhythmic loop. It’s here that the idea that the processor is hosting the crowd emerges, if only between beats, so that the artist might find an emotional intensity that is solely individual. Under these conditions of part-artist, part-computer automation –a gap is created. Just like in STRANGE ACTION, Lewis begins to move around the crowd, head down, grinding. At first, it seems that she’s fulfilling her contract as host, but then it becomes clear that Lewis’ physical movements are not really for the viewer. The choreography is based on something mnemonic, a source of emotional intensity, where access is denied, and as a consequence makes her energetic movements her own.

This interpretation raises an interesting question about service-orientated art and the acknowledgment that where there is a service there is also human fatigue. Or to put it another way, fatigue from hosting. Indeed, since the current technological advent –a world of immaterial (service)-labour and material-labour, and where host-body and host-service are seen as one –can we find a gap in our internet and computer-adapt lives to be individual? Some might blame our digital inventions for the rise of serviced individuals. But on this ‘occasion’, it is precisely through syncing with computers that the electric flows of individualisation continues. There, the individual is once more in attendance. **

Isabel Lewis’ Occasions was on at Berlin’s Tanz im August, August 26, 2015.

Header image: Isabel Lewis. Courtesy the artist.

  share news item